Latin Week in New York City

By Maurice Pinzon
This October, the New York City Latin Media and Entertainment Commission (LMEC) launched its first major city-wide event, seven years to the month after Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg signed an executive order creating the commission with the task of retaining, and attracting, new Latin media and entertainment ventures in the city.

The Latin Media and Entertainment Week (LMEW) activities, Bloomberg administration officials and LMEC members admitted, took too long to coalesce. However, officials and supporters were optimistic the initiative would galvanize New York City’s Latin media and entertainment groups into building something even more spectacular than the “Calle Ocho” music festival in Miami. The week-long events, which some people were referring to as “Latin Week,” ran from October 4th – 10th, at numerous venues throughout New York City.

Mario Baeza, the chairman of the LMEC, during opening remarks at a kickoff October 4 reception at Time-Warner headquarters said, “We were charged with trying to make New York City, once again, the Latin media and entertainment center of the world, something that we kind of abdicated to Miami and other places.”

But unlike the Miami music festival, the LMEC events also included theater, film, art and museum presentations and performances. Even a Latino circus, the “Circo Hermanos Vázquez” was scheduled to perform in the Bronx.

In an interview with New York News Network, Mr. Baeza, who is also chairman of Vme Media and the Baeza Group, admitted the programming was a work in progress and indicated that the economic payoff for New York would come when people outside the city attend future LMEW events. Mr. Baeza projected $3 – $5 million in economic revenue for the city. He added, “I think this could be a $30 million event, that’s kind of what we’re targeting.”

Carlos Manzano, the executive director of the LMEC said one goal was “getting people to consume and spend, but to enjoy and celebrate.”

Mr. Baeza pointed out that the LMEC had succeeded in luring the Latin Grammy Awards to New York but that it had not institutionalized anything close to what was about to take place during Latin Week.

Deputy Mayor Carol A. Robles-Roman, who was instrumental in creating the commission, in an interview with New York News Network, indicated that plenty of Latin media and entertainment events were always taking place in the city, but that “nobody had ever really packaged it in any way that was user friendly.” She added, “Next year it will be bigger, then it becomes an expectation, like Hispanic Heritage Month.”

Deputy Mayor Robles-Roman said, “The premise of the Latin Commission, as a group, was to create fertile ground to have different programming.” The commission has supported groups such as Teatro Stage Fest after the group came for support to expand their programming.

The LMEC holds formal meetings where organizations make presentations to commission members. The members then decide if the idea is viable and whether to support it. Ms. Robles-Roman explained that the Bloomberg administration, through the commission’s support, provides advice and introductions for individuals and organizations to connect with each other so they can build and expand their programming.

For more information visit: LMEC.

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